When a tornado hit a small town in Arkansas last week, one mother lost everything. Her house, her things—and her two, sweet little boys. While weeping in the hospital with broken legs, this mother was able to communicate to a friend how the grace of Christ transcends even the most unspeakable of tragedies. For you see, one son had told her the Sunday before the tornado that he was ready to go to heaven. “Will you miss me?” he asked. All moms know the fear of losing their children. They also know well the daily trials that can cause boredom and frustration. Gloria Furman, a pastor’s wife in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, shares with us about how Jesus loves us in the burnout and the heartbreak.
Grace can turn burnout into a blessing.
I know it sounds goofy and backwards to say this, but when we feel burned out, we’re in one of the most tender times when we can have communion with Jesus. When I’m in the middle of an exhausting day or someone has just sincerely complimented me that the dark circles under my eyes don’t look too bad, I have to remind myself: I don’t really want to look back over the day and think, “I totally nailed it! Gimme a high five, Jesus, because we’re a great team with you on the sidelines cheering me on.” That’s not what I want at all.
What I really want is to have child-like faith in my loving Father who ordains the good work I’m walking in (Eph. 2:10), consciously give my burdens to Jesus (Matt. 11:28), and to walk by the Spirit as I resist the temptation to give up (Gal. 5:16). I don’t want to forget the Lord because my heart has become proud (Deut. 8:14). I don’t want to be so preoccupied with my own strength that I forget the Lord and all his benefits (Psalm 103).
The middle of burnout mode is actually an opportunity to say and believe with all the strength God supplies: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).
Here’s a short clip from Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full that elaborates on this idea:
It’s common knowledge that the work of mothering is demanding and difficult, but sometimes we don’t live as though we need any help. Spoken as a testimony to a woman’s strength, we hear that “motherhood is not for the faint of heart.”
However, a case can be made that motherhood is only for the faint of heart. When the first child was born, Eve said, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord” (Gen. 4:10). On occasion in my doula work, a woman will admit to me that she doesn’t think she can do it—endure to the end of her pregnancy, give birth to her baby, or raise her child. When we acknowledge our inability to mother our children apart from the Lord’s provision and strength, we honor God. Of course we are not able to do this work of raising children and training them in the instruction of the Lord. That’s why we desperately need the Lord! We are to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Eph. 6:10).
This kind of absolute dependency on God insults our pride. We’re so quick to embrace other solutions for our emotional, physical, and mental fatigue. “I can figure this out on my own,” we tell ourselves. More often than not in our trials we pretend everything is okay, and we dive headlong into self-sufficiency. Faith, rather, acknowledges the fierceness of the storm and throws us into the sea, and we swim as fast as we can to where we see Jesus walking on the water (John 6:16–21).
Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, we need the Lord’s strength to honor him in our motherhood.
Sometimes the pitter-patter of little feet means that your child is running a marker along the wall in the hallway while he toddles away from you. The sweet, bleating cries of a newborn can turn into sassy comebacks and spiteful words. In every occasion, moms must rely on God’s strength. If we think we can do “this motherhood thing” in our own strength, then we are fooling ourselves. …
In the English Standard Version of the Bible the subtitle for Psalm 71 is this: “Forsake Me Not When My Strength Is Spent.” This is profoundly descriptive of a psalm that lauds the Lord as the one who saves us in his righteousness and is to us a rock of refuge. Whether you feel that you just can’t endure or that you don’t “have it in you” anymore, or if you feel that you’ve “got what it takes,” the gospel triumphs over all. Only God’s grace in the gospel can strengthen our faith to let Jesus carry our burdens in parenting.
Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young childen, doula, and blogger. Her first book, Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home, helped moms see the reality of grace in all of life. Out now, her second book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms, which helps moms pursue the giver of grace: Jesus. Furman lives in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where her husband is pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai.